Take care of smoke and carbon monoxide detectors

What you should do: Press the smoke and CO detector test button once a month. A working smoke detector may emit three short beeps or one long beep, depending on the manufacturer of the product; a CO detector can emit four short beeps or it can emit one long beep.

“To find out what a test should look like for your alarm, check the product’s instruction manual or check the instructions on the back of the alarm,” says McKelvey of the NFPA. “It is also important to research what the alarm will look like in the event of a real fire; in fact, the main message of our fire prevention campaign this month is to “learn the sounds of fire safety” because you need to understand what your alarm is telling you.

If the alarms do not sound, replace the batteries. Also install new batteries if a device beeps by itself, which is a signal that the batteries may be low.

If the alarm keeps ringing or beeping even after installing new batteries, it’s time to buy a new device.

Note that even if you have a newer alarm that comes with a 10-year battery so that it will work for the life of the alarm, you should still check the alarm monthly. If it does not beep during the test, you will need a new alarm.

Also, don’t keep old devices installed even though they seem to be working fine. You should replace smoke detectors at least every 10 years and CO detectors every five to seven years, says McKelvey.


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